I'd love to visit this place!

I'm absolutely mad about thunder
and lightning and could listen
to it/watch it for hours.

"This might make you jump a bit," warns
an Cotton, a senior lecturer at the
University of Manchester's School
of Electrical and Electronic

It is near pitch-black in the viewing
room where a soft red glow exuding
from a warning light above the door
barely cuts through the darkness.

A klaxon sounds and suddenly a giant
flash of lightning bolts through the air,
accompanied by a deafening crackle,
lighting up the room for
a fraction of a second.

Every day, the National Grid High
Voltage Laboratory at the University
generates electricity that
can reach millions of volts.

The hangar-like facility is packed
with enormous pieces of equipment:
transformers, generators and the
odd huge aluminium sphere.

It is one of the few places in the UK
where scientists can work with
huge voltages at first-hand.

Electricity is taken straight from the mains,
at the UK's standard 240 volts, but a towering
impulse generator ramps it up to a massive
two million volts - creating a voltage
that can be used to see how
lightning attaches to objects.



As the sun started to set last night here in
Colliers Wood and the boys returned from
their trek to Camden, we got the old
barbeque out and had a right feast.
Don't think I'll have to eat
again for a week!

Inevitably the Salmiakkikossu (Finnish
spirit made with the black stuff
and vodka like booze called
"Koskenkorva" )
made an apperance but remembering what
my hangover was like after the Midsummer
party I wisely had only one shot.

Karelian Blonde, Toni (on the right)
and Joni polished it off and we
all decided to come inside as it was
getting a bit nippy in the garden.

I wanted to crash out but as it happens
our neighbour had her 50th birthday party
and their stereo was on full blast in their
garden until about 3.30 this morning.

I stuck some earplugs on and managed
to get some sleep but the boys' bedroom
window is directly above their garden
so I don't think they had much kip.

The lads got sporty after eating
a game called Footbag.

Please click on the image
to view a larger version.

Resident Lounge Lizard Gerald
appeared from
the bushes
as soon as he could smell

the sausages, as usual.



Aerobatic team Russian Knights
celebrate Midsummer in style.


Fish and chips have gained the
top spot in a list of the 50 things
we love most about Britain.

The popular fried takeaway is loved
more dearly than the Queen,
who came second on the list.

The Royal Family collectively appears
in the chart at no 10 and Prince Harry
is nominated at no 44.

The poll of 7,000 Brits was conducted by
Holiday Inn hotel chain.

Buckingham Palace is rated the nation's
most loved building at no 11 and other
popular locations include the Tower
of London, Big Ben, Stonehenge,
Camden Market and the seaside
resort of Blackpool, all of which
make the top 50.

Old-fashioned pubs, red phone boxes
and cream teas all make the top ten,
confirming that traditional notions
of Britain's heritage are as
popular today as ever.

The iconic Black cabs and the old
Routemaster double-decker buses are
highly regarded as well as several British
cars, including the Aston Martin, the
Mini Cooper and the Jaguar E-type.

Andrew Smith, spokesman for Holiday Inn
said: "As a nation we are rightly patriotic.
This list gives a fascinating insight into
exactly what it means to be British -
our food, history, Royalty, our many
wonderful characters and all the
fabulous places we love to visit."

"It's great to celebrate the things we love
about our country. Over the last few years
there's been a big surge in the numbers of
people spending their holidays touring
around this wonderful land -
and this tells us why."


1. Fish and Chips
2. The Queen
3. Old fashioned pubs
4. Sunday roast
5. Red phone boxes
6. Big Ben
7. Cream teas
8. The Beatles
9. The Pound
10. The Royal family
11. Buckingham Palace
12. Shakespeare
13. Black cabs
14. NHS
15. James Bond
16. Red Routemaster buses
17. Cheddar Cheese
18. The Houses of Parliament
19. Manchester United
20. Ant and Dec
21. Stephen Fry
22. Cornish Pasties
23. Monty Python
24. The Tower of London
25. Aston Martin
26. BBC
27. Stonehenge
28. Cricket
29. Wimbledon
30. Glastonbury
31. Camden Market
32. Blackpool
33. Mini Coopers
34. J K Rowling
35. Edinburgh Festival
36. Scrumpy Cider
37. Concorde
38. Yorkshire Puddings
39. The Queen's English
40. Real ale
41. Pimms
42. Jaguar E-type
43. David Bowie
44. Prince Harry
45. Harrods
46. Ice cream vans
47. The Red Arrows
48. Margaret Thatcher
49. Covent Garden
50. Morris Dancers


This is truly a case of "the beauty
is in the eye of the beholder".

A one-eyed three legged Chinese crested
dog called Gus (below) was crowned
The World's Ugliest Dog on Saturday at
the annual competition in Sonoma-Marin
Fair in Northern California. The top
prize is $1,000 (£510.)

Some critics have derided the contest
for being little more than an animal
freakshow, while supporters have
claimed it goes a long way to champion
pets that would otherwise
go unregarded.

Indeed, many of the competitors have
previously suffered neglect before being
rescued from animal homes. Winner Gus
lost an eye after a fight with a cat and
had his leg amputated because
of a tumour.


This is brilliant news.

The Cutty Sark will be fully restored
thanks to a £3.3m donation from
an Israeli shipping tycoon.

The ship, based in Greenwich, south-east
London, was part-way through a £35m
conservation project when a
fire started
onboard in May last year.

Shipping magnate Sammy Ofer has donated
£3.3m to enable the restoration to
be completed by 2010.

The Cutty Sark Trust welcomed the
"extraordinary" donation. The
cause of the fire remains unclear.

The restoration project will see the ship
suspended 3m (9.8ft) above the
bottom of her dry berth.

The space below will be transformed
into a gallery (artist's impression
above), enabling visitors to see the
shape of the ship's hull.

Conservation work reached a "major milestone"
in April, when a seven-tonne iron counter,
a large and delicate part of the
ship's stern, was lifted by crane
from the rest of the ship.

Other work, which has been ongoing
despite the fire, includes the
restoration of the wooden planks
from the ship's hull.

EDIT: 30.9.08

The Cutty Sark blaze was accidental.
A fire which caused £10m damage
was sparked by an industrial vacuum
cleaner that was left switched
on for two days.


Me and Tommi were walking from
Tooting Bec to Tooting Broadway the
other day and we stopped to
read a sign on the front wall
of the
King's Head pub.

It tells the general history of the area
and of the pub but also mentiones
a little known fact that there is a

crater on Mars called Tooting!

How very strange! This is definitely
a case of "learn something
new every day".

Tooting Crater is about 28 km in diameter
and is located at 23.4N, 207.5E, just to
the west of Olympus Mons volcano,
which is often cited as the
largest volcano on Mars.



...Your ears if this list is
anything to go by.

Celine Dion's rendition of AC/DC's "You Shook Me
All Night Long" was given the dubious honour
of being "The Worst Cover Song Ever" in
Total Guitar magazine's survey.

Editor Stephen Lawson said
Dion's cover was "sacrilege".

Top Five worst covers:

5. Wonderwall - The Mike Flowers Pops
4. Light My Fire - Will Young
3. More Than Words - Westlife
2. Walk This Way - All Saints
1. You Shook Me All Night Long
- Celine Dion

You can watch the video


Tommi goes home to Finland Thursday
morning and in the afternoon my
next lot of visitors arrive.

My counsin's son Toni arrives from
Amsterdam with his friend Joni.

The boys decided to travel a bit
before they have to start their
National Service in early July.

Toni has visited me in London before
when he was 14 and the last time
I saw him was in Finland
5 years ago (pic above).

Welcome boys!


Remember in April when I fell in
love with Tetley's
Redbush tea?

Well since then I've discovered that
our local Lidl sells a different brand
redbush with 3 flavours: orange,
vanilla and caramel.

I love the orange one and tried the vanilla
for the first time today. Yummy!
Next trip I'll buy the
caramel as well.



We celebrated Midsummer with style
yesterday: my friend Heidi from Kent
arrived early afternoon and we started
with a barbecue and a bonfire.

Tommi had brought some Finnish Kabanossi
sausages with him and we also had
beef steaks and burgers. Heidi
made a lovely potato salad.

Dubious amounts of alcohol were consumed
of course and when it got dark the neighbours
a few doors down started to play some
god awful bongo drums.

So then we, in our drunken state of genius,
decided to play
Eläkeläiset, a Finnish
humppa band, as loudly as we could.

That soon shut the neighbours up and we
carried on listening to that and other
classic pop hits until 11, when, as law
abiding citizens, we turned
the stereo off.

We never ever play music loudly in the
garden as I know how annoying it
is to the neighbours so
this was a one off.

Heidi was making sure the bonfire
didn't spread by performing an
elaborate dance (below)
with a watering can!




Our old strimmer gave up the ghost
eariler in the spring so today when me
and Tommi ventured to the local
shopping centre I bought a new one
and of course made him first of all
carry it home and then
do all the work!

We've been doing bits and pieces all week
like painted the fence and gate in front of
the house, mowed the lawn etc. and
now we're just about to settle down
to celebrate Midsummer.

It's the biggest annual holiday in Finland
after Xmas. My friend Heidi is arriving
soon, we're going to barbecue and have
a traditional bonfire afterwards.

The spuds are doing well but...

...the bloody bastard slugs have eaten
all but one of my sunflowers,
exactly as last year!



Remember last year whenTommi
was on his annual visit and

we built a new garden fence?

Well it was OK until the bloody builders
next door leaned loads of crap against it,
ladders and wood etc., so it went wonky
plus on windy days it started
to sway about.

The only thing to do really was to
concrete the posts. The stuff is
amazing, it sets in ten minutes.

I was the gofer as always: Tommi's cider
and fags, water, shovels, spirit levels
and so on. Mira the cat (above) was
on supervising duty from her spot
on the picnic table same
as last year!



Me and Tommi went too the lastest
Indiana Jones in the
cinema today.

I've seen all of them on the
big screen so it was a must.

It had plenty of action and humour,
the plot is a bit same old same old
with some aliens thrown in but it
was an entertaining two
hours none the less.

Plus it's like Tommi said:
"(With the Indy films) You leave
the cinema in a good
mood". Job done.



My friend Tommi from Finland is
visiting me at the moment with his
brother Tuomo, who's never been to
England before so we've done the
touristy things today: London Eye
(I didn't go as I've been five times
already but the boys had a spin) and
Madame Tussauds.

Met some famous folk there...

Me and Johnny Depp.
Oh Johnny...

Me and Boris Becker. I never
realised he is that tall! I'm 5'7,
he is 6'3, apparently!

Me and my girl Madge.

John Travolta and me with
Mr Cool, Samuel L Jackson.

Jennifer Lopez looked surprised
to find Tommi's hand
on her bottom!

Tuomo (on the left) and Tommi
with The Little Britain
characters Andy and Lou.

Below a few more random shots
from our travels (on
Friday the 13th!)